About the Jews
Prepared for First Baptist Church
A Little Background
A common Jewish saying goes, “Where there are two Jews, there are three opinions.” Many Jews have engaged in discussions, arguments, points of law and various ideas throughout the centuries. Some have learned to argue so well that they are able to argue points they do not hold as if they held those perspectives.
Jewish history is responsible for this. The Jews often either segregated themselves or were segregated due to their distinct cultures, dress, food, etc., The Jewish social commonality was the study of the Talmud. The Talmud consists of commentaries on the commentaries on the Torah. Rabbis long ago wrote commentaries on the Torah. Rabbis of later centuries viewed those commentaries as from the Spirit of God, and they wrote commentaries on the commentaries. The result was a massive set of hallowed commentaries that included regulations for Jewish life.
The rabbis who wrote those regulations often disagreed with each other. One rabbi would write one regulation, and another would disagree with it and would write another. Still other rabbis would expand on the regulations already written, both for and against. Yet veneration of these rabbis dictated that no one openly challenge their authority. The Jews thus learned to exist with great conflicts as if they were part of life.
When Jews trained in the Talmud studied law in any country, they nearly always excelled. Almost any law code was far simpler than the Talmud, and learning Gentile law codes was very easy. The same was true for medicine. Learning medicine was far easier than the Talmud, and Jewish doctors could easily become very great.
What do Jews Believe?
A common question asked by Gentiles is, “What do Jews believe regarding … ?” This question sounds reasonable, but it is based on an erroneous assumption: that Jews hold a common belief. The saying above, “Where there are two Jews, there are three opinions” automatically eliminates the possibility of a common belief among Jews.
There are five main religious forms of Judaism: Hassidic Orthodox, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist. Yet, these do not express what individual members of these groups believe. Many who belong to an Orthodox synagogue do not believe what the rabbi believes; membership does not require a commonality of faith. It only requires a commonality in public practices. (Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism don’t even require that.)
Membership has benefits, and most who join do so for the sake of the benefits. (This is the same in religious organizations throughout the world. Most who join churches have little knowledge of or interest in the true faith of those churches. They are only required to say and do certain things, and are accepted into the membership. Few give weight to what they say.)
Hassidic Orthodox Jews
Hassidic Orthodox Jews are the most religious in the various forms of Judaism. They are the group often seen davening (moving their upper bodies forward and back as if in mourning) at the Western (‘Wailing’) Wall. They follow certain rabbis (teachers) who are or were considered the greatest examples of men closest to God. Their dress code is very strict as are their food requirements. They cannot eat foods prepared by folks who do not follow the strictest rabbinic commands. Some would be driven to starve before they would touch traifah (any unclean food, though literally referring to animals found torn, like road-kill). They would not shake hands with a Goy (Gentile) lest they become unnecessarily unclean; yet they are usually most affectionate toward their family and friends and very willing to help fellow Jews in need. Peter (in the Bible) maintained the same standards regarding Gentiles until a voice told him to not call anyone unclean whom God has cleansed (the text indicating that most indeed are unclean). Uncleanness has nothing to do with cleanliness—personal hygiene; it has to do with Yehovah’s standards of propriety for anyone to come into Yehovah’s congregation during an event that Yehovah commanded. The rabbis added many commands to the Biblical commands regarding cleanness/uncleanness. Hassidic Orthodox Jews (Hassidim) live according to the rabbinic additions as well as to ones found in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).
Commands that Hassidim observe include the Sabbath (starting on Friday as the sun sets and ending on Saturday as the sun sets). They do no work, driving, business or switching on a light on the Sabbath. (If the light will be necessary, it is turned on before sunset.) They do no cooking on the Sabbath. (Hot meals are prepared before the Sabbath and are placed in warmed ovens so that the Sabbath meal can be served hot.) They do no walking beyond a prescribed distance on the Sabbath.
All these practices have nothing to do with faith in the existence of God. Some Hassidim fervently believe in God (whom they call HaShem meaning the Name), and others do not. Tradition and community are the most powerful forces.
Hassidim honor the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), the prophets and the writings (in other words, the entire ‘Old Testament’). They honor the rabbinic commentaries on the Torah as much as the Torah. They honor the rabbinic commentaries on the commentaries on the Torah as much as or more than the Torah believing that the rabbis were given infallible abilities to explain the Torah. (The same belief is commonly found in fundamental ‘Conservative’ Christianity; writers of commentaries are honored as if they wrote from the Spirit of God in their explanations.) The difference is that Christian Conservatives do this by practice but not by direct acknowledged policy, which is more or less what you get with Talmudists.)
Every aspect of everyday life is regulated for the Hassidim. Most are quite content with this. Such regulation brings a great sense of peace, purpose and the feeling of closeness to God even if it avoids questions that must be asked if one will understand the Bible. They think their rabbis understand Biblical texts in the deepest ways, and they rely on them for their own standing before God. They understand that God is like their rabbis in both dress and perspectives.
After the Hassidic Orthodox Jews come the Orthodox Jews. They don’t maintain the same level of strictness and study as the Hassidic Orthodox Jews, but they hold a very religious practice. Hassidic Jewish males wear broad-rimmed, fur-bound black hats while Orthodox Jews will wear a kippah (meaning cap, and in Yiddish is called a yarmulke pronounced yamikah) or a black hat. Hassidic Jews wear a ‘prayer shawl’ at all times they are dressed, while Orthodox Jews do not necessarily do this all the time. Orthodox Jews are very strict regarding foods, maintaining rabbinic kashrut (kosher laws). But some will freely shake the hands of others and are not known for being so strict regarding touching Gentiles or becoming unclean. They are definitely stricter in their lifestyles than their Christian counterparts who claim to be part of a form of orthodox Christianity.
Orthodox Jews will not drive on the Sabbath (unless they are cheaters; and there are always some cheaters who put the rules aside when they are not being seen), and will not work or do business on it.
Hassidic Orthodox Jewish and Orthodox Jewish women are the greatest advocates of the maintenance of the religion. Religious Jewish women scorn Jews who are not religious. They are often very kind to Gentile women interested in their faith, showing them the Orthodox life and discussing all issues with them. Most Orthodox and Hassidic Orthodox women can be very kind to those who inquire, and they will show open contempt for Jews who violate strict regulations and live a pagan lifestyle. Jewish men seem to be the heads of the homes, but in reality Jewish women hold the societies together by maintaining the highest standards. The men respond by doing the same. (This is also true in strict Islamic cultures.)
Also known as the Judaism of Reform, this is not ‘Reformed Judaism;’ Reformed Judaism does not exist. The Judaism of Reform came about because of Jewish history and practice by which Jews were always outside of Gentile society. Some Jews aspired to be accepted among the Gentiles and to not be ostracized due to religion, clothing and foods. The founders determined to make some reforms in Judaism in order to bring peace between Jews and Gentiles. This was accomplished through compromise (on the part of the Jews). Reform Judaism at first looked little different from Orthodox Judaism except for men not consistently wearing a kippah and special clothing, but over time more and more parts of Judaism were shed in order to conform to Gentile society. Reform Judaism finally became viewed as the faith or faithlessness of Gentilized Jews. The only belief a Reform Jew could not hold was in Jesus. Reform Jews could be Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, Shinto, whatever, as long as belief in Jesus was not part of it.
Reform Judaism was not very popular at first, seen as being held by destructive radicals. It later became more popular and soon became much like attending a liberal church. The order of service includes repetition and readings with little ‘audience’ participation. (Hassidic Orthodox and Orthodox services are much longer and include much more participation, and focus on texts and their meanings and applications.) Shorter Reform services center around the rabbi’s usually very liberal sermons that discuss social issues. Orthodox and Hassidic Orthodox Jews often do not view Reform rabbis as true rabbis. Reform Jews always view Orthodox and Hassidic Orthodox rabbis as rabbis indeed.
Conservative Judaism was born out of Reform Judaism, though a person attending would not necessarily conclude that. Some in the Reform movement saw Reform Judaism with its liberal teachings, acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism, etc. as a way to deplete the Jewish world of Jews by turning them into Goyim (Gentiles). They did not desire to become Orthodox, but they did want a maintenance of some traditions, certainly during services. Thus, the Conservative movement was born. The services allow for men and women to sit together (not done in Orthodox and Hassidic Orthodox services), but kippahs are worn.
One main feature of Conservative Judaism is its worship of the Sabbath Queen. The Sabbath is viewed as a woman, and her arrival is honored as if she is royalty or deity. Songs are sung in her honor.
Conservative Judaism has a perfect counterpart in Conservative Christianity. They are both called Conservative because the idea is to conserve some trappings and traditions while not being so strict. Orthodox means straight doctrine, implying strict codes of right and wrong with strong, clear lines of behaviour that must not be passed. Conservatism is far more ‘accepting’ (and thus, far more liberal), focusing on a few well-chosen issues (like abortion among Christians) rather than on strict faith and practice. The same is true in Conservative Christianity. It isn’t orthodox (straight-doctrined), though its adherents are convinced it is. Conservative Christianity is famous for only taking some texts literally while viewing others as symbolic or allegorical according to personal preferences (not according to a standard that the Author gives for determining which is which). The accent in both Conservative Judaism and Conservative Christianity is in how things look; neither group accents deeply studying texts beyond lip service.
Curiously, forms of Christianity that are called Orthodox (like the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc.) are very liberal (that is, loose in their interpretations) in many places. They are not orthodox (straight-doctrined) in those areas. The same is true in both Orthodox and Hassidic Orthodox Judaism. They are both very liberal in areas where their rabbis did not desire to be strict. One example is the text in Exodus that blatantly states when the Jews are to start each year: in the spring. Even the most Orthodox Jews (along with the most liberal of Jews who still claim Judaism) celebrate the start of the year (Rosh HaShanah) in the fall, a full six months away from the time given in the command.
Most of the Jews do not fall under any of the above categories of Judaism. Most have no established belief in a god. Only a few have been attracted to modern Christianity. Jews who become Christians either go for Charismatic forms where they can maintain being Jewish or they go for the most liberal forms of Christianity such as Unitarianism. This is often necessary to be accepted by their Gentile neighbours who put up religious fronts in order to make it in society. They are like so many politicians who find being part of some church imperative to be elected, choosing ones with the least spiritual demands.
Jews who attend Conservative churches are often treated differently than their Gentile counterparts, either being elevated to an impossibly high status or being told that they must reject their ‘Jewishness’ and join the (Gentile) church, conforming to it and its standards in order to be accepted by God.
Jews are generally politically liberal. That is probably due to their history. When historical conservative governments arose, Jews usually did not fare well and were often targeted for being different. Some Jews are politically very conservative. Jews will usually maintain two sets of opposing views without feeling any conflict. Even the most Orthodox Jews will have no problem voting for a liberal politician if that politician is strong toward Israel and toward those things that will benefit (or do less damage to) the Orthodox Jewish community. Yet the most liberal Jews will support the most conservative candidates who voice a strong view for or against what those Jews support or are against. One of the most liberal and famous Jewish lawyers in the United States is very conservative on certain issues, as he has openly acknowledged. No person can understand the Jews without knowing that the same Jewish person will take opposing views on almost the same issues, and will stand up strongly for both.
The Jews are like everyone else, except more so.
If a Jew invents a political system, a religion or a mixture, many Gentiles will go after it as if it is a revelation from God. Karl Marx was Jewish, and to this day the largest population on earth (the various races of the Chinese) still espouse his religion/political system called Communism. A close examination of Karl Marx’s instruction on Communism will show that it is almost entirely stolen from the Biblical book of Acts with one exception: Mr. Marx determined to leave God out of it. Saints in Acts held all things in common and benefited each other just as Mr. Marx suggested man (in general) would naturally do. His system instead became a means of authoritarian corruption and slavery. But whenever a Jewish person proposes a system like this, many go after it. How effective would a Jewish person be who proposed taking the Word of God literally?
Mainly Jewish folks invented the Hollywood movie industry, and the whole world went after it. That industry has been beneficial in some ways and highly destructive in others. The world still goes after it. Even violent anti-Semites watch television.
Jewish names loom much greater in proportion to their population in the life-saving medical fields, with Jews discovering numerous vaccines and medical techniques.
Jews were blamed for the Black Plague because they didn’t tend to be so affected by it. The plague was exacerbated by Gentile superstitious stupidity. Jewish communities were affected less, and this is perhaps attributable to different cultural practices. Some outspoken Gentiles claimed that Jews were poisoning their wells, causing the Plague. Violence against the Jews became widespread, and the Jews were driven out of Europe. Think what could have been done had folks with sense considered the situation.
So-called ‘Christians’ have blamed Jews for ‘killing Christ.’ (Some who claim to be Christians currently do this.) The Bible places responsibility for His death on Jews, Gentiles, Yehovah and Yeshua in various texts. Those who blame the Jews do so with often violent results. Yet the Bible states that the Jews are responsible for Salvation (as I later quote).
Some have accused the Jews of having no patriotic loyalty. Rumors of Jews being international and even causing wars have been spread by lying books like Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The majority of Jews have been poor, not wealthy. As of a few years ago, no Jewish person was the president of any bank in the United States. Some Jews have done well, but so have some Gentiles. Jews have been loyal to any country where they have lived if that country has treated them well. (Most have not treated them well for long.) They have worked hard, and often had their wealth stolen (consider European history). Yet, in any country where they have been able to live and do well, they have aided that country with their means and blood. Traitors can be from any race; Jews have rarely been traitors.
A number of Jews supported the Revolutionary War with funding. The United States has acknowledged this benefit on its paper money, employing Jewish symbols:
Obviously, if a country turns against the Jews, the Jews must either leave or die. This has often occurred in Jewish history. Jews tend to stay too long and be too loyal even when this is foolish.
As for Jewish internationalism, because Jews live in most all countries of the world and share a cultural commonality, they are able to expedite trade and benefits. Many non-Jews have prospered through this trade.
Wherever Jews go, the Torah goes with them. Wherever Jews go, the Bible goes with them. (That includes the ‘New Testament’.) That doesn’t mean that Jews in general believe the Bible. Most Jews do not believe in the Biblical God. Most are agnostic (agnosos indicating ignorance); they don’t know. Most who do believe in a god or gods do not believe in a Biblically described God (the same being true of most who claim to be Christian). Jews are found in most world religions. Yet where the Jews go, the Torah also goes; the Truth of the Word of God also follows.
Friends of Jews are friends of the Bible. Those who ignore Jews or who stand against them ignore the Bible or stand against it. This is a most curious phenomenon. Jews represent the Bible whether they want to or not.
What About When the Jews Do Wrong?
I am sometimes asked, “What about when the Jews do wrong? Are you saying that I must be for them in order to be right with God?” The Jews did wrong under Moses’ administration. Moses killed some of them to save all of them. Moses was never against the Jews. He was against individuals who violated the Torah and whose violation was about to bring the very destructive wrath of Yehovah upon Israel. That isn’t the same as standing against the Jews.
Jews belong to Yehovah. Standing against them is standing against Yehovah’s property. It is up to Yehovah to deal with them or to use whomever He will to deal with them. Anyone who presumes to speak for God by dealing with the Jews will find Yehovah’s fury set against him. If a Jewish person does wrong and you are in the position and have the responsibility to deal with him, do so. But do not stand against the Jews; it has everlasting consequences.
Does God Favor the Jews over the Gentiles?
If the Jews do wrong, Yehovah deals with them harder for the same offenses. (The Bible states that this is the case.) They have Truth because He gave them Truth. They are held responsible for what they have been given. If they don’t know, it isn’t because they don’t have access. Even if a Jewish person were on a desert island in a prison cell, and were given only food, water and clothing, the Jewish person would not be isolated from Yehovah’s Spirit. Abraham heard from Yehovah, and he had no Bible. John was in prison on Patmos. He was temporarily removed from there, taken into the heavens and into the future to view things to come. No Jewish person is isolated from God, nor can be. If he or she desires to know, Yehovah will make sure he or she knows. (The same is true for any Gentile who desires to know.)
Yehovah owns the Jews. (He does not claim ownership over other races.) He has vowed to benefit them if they will obey His Torah (in other words, do their responsibilities). He has also vowed to bless those who bless Avraham, and He transferred that blessing to Isaac and then to Jacob.
Yehovah favours the Jews in some ways and violently goes after them in others as He would not do with pagan races. This favour has to do with a group, not with individuals. Most Jewish individuals find Yehovah’s attention anything but a privilege. As was said in Fiddler on the Roof, “Why can’t you choose someone else?”
Some are jealous of the Jews. They are jealous for the blessings—blessings that Jews have not enjoyed since the time of the promise, but they are not jealous for the guaranteed cursings that Jews have abundantly obtained for disobedience to the Torah.
Salvation is of the Jews
Anyone who believes the Bible believes that Salvation is of the Jews. Instead of being jealous of the Jews, those who have any interest and belief in the Bible need to present to the Jews the very Salvation that Jews have given to all who believe. They need to drive the Jews to jealousy. Romans 11 states this. Any form of Christianity that does not have this as its primary and central goal does not truly believe in the resurrection of the dead. For Messiah will return with those who have died in faith only after Israel (including every living Israeli) has finally been made entirely righteous in faith.
Yeshua says (which is explicit in a similar way), “Ye will not see me again until ye say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes with the Name Yehovah.’” He was saying what the corporate Body of the Jews have yet to state. Of course that leaves out any kind of manipulation or mechanism of ‘faith’ on the part of Christians to make (or cause) Yeshua to come back.
How Can One Understand the Jews?
Read the Bible. It perfectly and completely describes the Jews. Jews who are far more gracious than nearly any American you will meet are described in the Bible; Jews who are more wicked and violent than most criminals are also described.
Yehovah has given Jews the responsibility to rightly portray Him to the world. Jews are best equipped for their assignments just as Saints from all races will be equipped for their different assignments.
Before I went to Israel, I experienced the local culture of some Jews in the United States. I was shocked to find a very different culture in Israel, a culture that I could not reconcile with my experiences. Jews are not standard. They reflect cultures in which they live; yet they hold a different culture no matter where they live. I found that I could understand Jewish cultures best by studying the Bible and the character of Yehovah! No one in possession of a Bible knows Yehovah if that person does not understand the Jews since understanding the Jews and Yehovah go hand in hand as one reads the Bible. Anyone who hates the Jews is bitter against Yehovah, not to mention a bitter enemy OF Yehovah.
Didn’t God Turn to the Gentiles Because the Jews Refused to Obey?
Yehovah is divorced. The Bible directly states this. Yehovah was married to Jerusalem; He is now divorced from her. He will remarry her again. Yehovah has not ‘let Israel be’ since the divorce; He has been keeping an eye on her. Anyone who touches the Israelis touches the pupil of His eye. (That is rather sensitive.) Yehovah has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
He foreknew the Israelis before He chose them. He would be a failure if He chose wrong. He has sense. Yehovah has not turned to the Gentiles and away from Israel.
Look at what the Gentiles have done in the way of Biblical scholarship in the last 1800 years. Look at what they haven’t done. How many understand the purpose of the red heifer? How many understand the vital types of the sacrifices in the Torah? How many understand the details of the Tribulation as described throughout the book of John? How many can rightly and fully explain Matthew 5-7? How many know what the Ark of the Testimony pictures? Given 1800 years, what have the Gentiles done? Have they made a pure Christianity with a definite and right standard according to what the Bible describes in all details?
The Gentiles have done no better, and have done far worse than the Jews. At least in the days of Yeshua (Jesus) a number of folks were declared righteous, and they knew that one could successfully and consistently refuse to sin by the power of God.
God hasn’t turned to the Gentiles. He has been silent. Yehovah is silent when He is angry.
As one person stated, “It reminds me of what people say about psychics – – why don’t they always win at horse racing? What has occurred to me about the Jews and Yehovah is that He knows the end from the beginning and doesn’t place bets on any losing horses since He knows how the race turns out.”
Popular in Gentilized (and unfortunately in so-called ‘Messianic Jewish’) theology is the view that the Gentiles have replaced Israel (or, in the case of Messianic Judaism, the view that modern Jews have replaced Israel). This violent theology is pervasive even among many who claim to be friends of Israel.
When pastors, preachers and teachers steal texts that are specifically for Israel for their own theological applications, they are practicing Replacement Theology. Not only is this stealing and dishonest, it totally blinds hearers to Truth and teaches an illegitimate faith (and thus an illegitimate salvation).
Replacement Theology is an attempt to annihilate the Jews. Folks who use it may not have that in mind, but they are as guilty as those who think that all Jews are stingy while claiming that they are not racist. Reading the Bible is not for the mindless; it is designed for children (who take things literally) and for thinkers who are willing to consider Truth. Yehovah also designed the Bible so that those who love a lie could erroneously use it.
Yehovah entrusted His Word to the Jews first, and He will entrust His Word to the Jews finally. They will teach Gentiles His Word during the entire Millennium while He reigns. The Jews will teach His Word literally.
Yeshua told the mostly unbelieving Jews that they are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He never said that to any other group. (He never said that to any individuals.) Jews have been chosen by a ‘right wise’ God to be the light of the world (a light to the Gentiles) and to be the salt of the earth (bringing real flavor to life). They have already been given these abilities. All who fear the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob have a responsibility toward the Jews just as the Jews have a responsibility toward the Gentiles. If one group does not presently fulfill its responsibilities, does that release the other from responsibility?
This paper updated with edits on March 22, 2006